“When someone is happy in Naples, he pays for two coffees:
one for himself and another for anyone else.
It’s like offering a coffee to the rest of the world.”
Luciano De Crescenzo, in his book entitled “Il caffè sospeso”.
Coffee break has always been a moment of fun so now I’ll give you to taste the drink that boasts of having so many fans in Italy. I offer it to you with a curiosity: the pending coffee (caffè sospeso). This cup of kindness is an ancient tradition of solidarity originated in Naples that has inspired documentaries, books and literary competitions. There are those who say: only after a coffee I can… express”. The truth is that coffee and good humor are part of the Italian’s life. There is no day without a coffee… and even without a good laugh.
But I don’t mean just one! In fact, each day in Italy, 80 thousand cups of coffee are served and many times they are accompanied by jokes, some intelligent, others not so much, which when told in a coffee shop can draw a smile on our face. It doesn’t matter how gray is your day, just a coffee break is enough to trigger a good moment. Some cups have printed caffè al volo (quick coffee) and there are coffee shops that also offers quick challenges as writing a small story in just the time of a coffee which in Italy is almost always very fast. In others, we can take and/or exchange books or come across DJs that invites the clients to leave shyness apart and sing a song live on the radio. In Radio Padova’s morning program I listened to great talents. If the ‘macchiato’ is sweetened with love everything becomes possible.
Coffee and creativity are always present and are prepared to satisfy all tastes. Short black, long black, cappuccino, hot macchiato, cold macchiato, with milk aside, in a large cup (long), laced coffee… the list is long. But what about that story in which the pending coffee has become a documentary? Well, the customer orders a coffee and pays for two leaving the second one to be given to anyone more unfortunate that perhaps just that day would not have even a coin in his pocket to treat himself with that little pleasure. So, when the craving for coffee is too strong or the cold freezes the bones the best to be done is to take refuge in a coffee shop and asks for a pending coffee. If so, a cup of coffee will be immediately served.
Although these days it’s no longer a habit there are many actions that keep this tradition alive. Some reserve a special day to remember it, and, fortunately, many take the initiative and continue to promote it as recently happened at the Milan Fair, where seven thousand pending coffees were served.
The practice of pending coffee is an act of kindness or charity towards others. This gesture so natural and friendly has crossed the boundaries of Naples conquering other Italian cities, such as Rome and Milan, and arrived abroad: United Kingdom, France, the United States and Brazil have already embraced it. Thus, without much clamor, prepaid coffee goes around helping to warm the body and the heart of many people, especially on the coldest winter days.
Coffee with good manners
It’s not just kindness that counts when it’s time for a coffee break. If one does not save in good manners, he probably will be able to save money. It’s not rare to find as a joke on the balcony a notice showing the price of coffee may vary depending on how you ask for it: ‘a coffee = € 3; ‘a coffee please = € 2 and ‘good morning, could you make me a coffee, please? = €1. “Kindness generates kindness“, as said José Datrino, a Brazilian urban personality known in Rio de Janeiro as the Gentle Prophet. For those who wants to know more about this character beloved by cariocas (people born in Rio) the links are here and here.
Do you like the idea of pending coffee?
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